Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden wants the power to set licensing fees transferred from the state to county government, apparently as a means of raising new revenue. But the plan appears to be in jeopardy.
The County Council already has the authority to set fees for such things as building permits, golf courses, or health inspections.
But the General Assembly sets many annual fees, including the fees for restaurant licenses and retail licenses to sell cigarettes.
Some of the fees the state sets for the county are substantially lower than those collected by Baltimore City.
This fiscal year, fees set by the state will funnel $1.08 million into the county, said Keith Dorsey, an administrative budget analyst. That equates to about 1 cent on the property tax rate of $2.86 for each $100 of assessed value.
If the county gets the authority Mr. Hayden wants, new revenues from increased fees could help balance the shortfall expected next fiscal year, which is expected to be $34.2 million to $48.2 million, depending on which tax plan the General Assembly adopts this session.
This week, the County Council took a straw poll and supported Mr. Hayden's plan.
But one council member clearly indicated he did not want to increase the fees for the sake of simply raising revenue. "I could only see raising these fees if the costs of administering these fees increased. But I can't see raising them just for added revenue," said Council Chairman William A. Howard IV, D-6th.
But Councilman Douglas Riley, R-4th, said he agrees with the idea of giving the county "complete autonomy to use these fees to raise new revenue if needed."
The bill needs backing from the county's legislative delegation.
Patrick H. Roddy, Mr. Hayden's legislation liaison, did not return telephone calls.